Remember when the advice to married couples was to schedule a private getaway weekend every now and again, the better to preserve a relationship under siege from children?
Well, now couples are scheduling private getaway weekends in order to have those children.
They are called "conceptionmoons," a derivation of "babymoon," a trip couples take just before the birth of their first child, and, of course, "honeymoon."
"It looks like it is a great way to relax and reduce the stress of trying to get pregnant," said Linda Murray, editor in chief of babycenter.com, which gave the trend its name.
She noticed that couples who visited the fertility areas on the Web site were talking about these trips. "We decided to do a little more research."
A survey of more than 1,000 members, sponsored by the folks who make Clear Blue Easy, the ovulation test sticks, revealed that more than three-quarters had taken a "conceptionmoon" to relax and rekindle the romance in their relationship and - get this - four out of 10 couples came home pregnant.
"I was surprised at how many people are going on these little vacations," said Murray. "But I was really surprised at how many people got pregnant. Most of the people said they had been trying to conceive for about eight months."
The average age of these vacationers is just over 30. "It is one of those birthdays that wakes women up," said Murray. "The clock is ticking."
While most couples go to the beach - Hawaii and Florida are the top spots - many visit a city, and Las Vegas is the favorite.
Also, according to the survey, 68 percent of the couples have at least one child already and are going for No. 2. And about 40 percent of those first children are under a year old.
"Trying to conceive with a 6-month-old in the house must be crazy," said Murray.
The average cost of a conceptionmoon? $1,700. It sounds like an extravagance until you put it up against the cost of fertility treatments.
"We have all seen so many people go through fertility treatments that we know it is not an enjoyable process," said Murray.
"[Couples] know the technology is there, but they don't see it as the ideal way. They are taking control of their conception and trying to conceive on their own terms. A conceptionmoon is another arrow in their quiver."
The negative impact of stress on fertility is more than an old wives' tale. "Just relax and it will happen" is probably true.
Research has suggested that stress causes hormone fluctuations that can delay ovulation or cancel it altogether. And almost 70 percent of the survey couples who said they took a conceptionmoon reported being stressed or somewhat stressed about trying to conceive.
What interested me about this survey is this: It takes an average of six months of trying for a couple to get pregnant. Most of the couples in the survey had been trying for only eight months.
There doesn't seem to be much patience out there. All those thirtysomething couples must believe that they have only minutes to create their 2.5 children.
"Trying to have a baby is stressful for the couple," said Murray. "It becomes a job, and a lot of disappointment sets in when they get their period at the end of the month.
"A trip like this can be a conception tool. But it brings couples closer, even if the result is not a pregnancy."
To hear audio clips of selected Susan Reimer columns, go to baltimoresun.com/reimer.